As I write the refrigerated cargo vessel m.v. Horncliff is on its way to Cork Harbour with a seriously injured captain and several injured crew members after being hit by a freak wave during a storm up to 400km off the South West coast of Ireland.
The Horncliff, which is carrying a cargo of bananas en route from Costa Rica to Dover, was hit by a huge wave around 21.00hrs GMT yesterday (01/02/08), resulting in its captain being seriously injured with suspected spinal injuries and internal bleeding. Two passengers were also injured but less seriously.
In addition between 60 and 90 refrigerated containers were swept into the sea off the west Cork coast and the Irish coastguard has issued a warning to all shipping in the area to procede with extreme caution.
A rescue helicopter from RMB Chivenor in Devon, England went to the scene, refuelling at Cork Airport en route, but was unable to winch the captain aboard because of the rough seas and pitching of the vessel which has a slight list. The ship is continuing its journey eastward and the latest information we have is that it will now divert to Cork Harbour.
The RAF helicopter is returning to the scene to assess the situation this morning but it is not yet known whether they will make another attempt to airlift the injured captain ashore or wait until the ship arrives in Cork.
There are 31 passengers and crew onboard the Horncliff. Many cargo ships continue to carry passengers.
* Update at 09.21 GMT Saturday 2nd February 2008 - it is now reported that the Horncliff will continue to Falmouth. A RAF rescue helicopter is at the scene and a paramedic has been winched onboard the ship to assess the situation. Depending on this assessment the injured captain may be airlifted to hospital in Truro, Cornwall.